The aroma of freshly baked bread and fermenting winegrapes may soon waft from Downtown, now that the Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery has cleared one of its final planning hurdles.
With little hesitation, the Lodi Planning Commission on Wednesday night approved Gregg and Colleen Lewis' request to sell alcohol at their new business.
The Acampo couple said they hope to open the winery by late fall or winter (with presses, fermenting tanks and all).
The business will operate at the former Cottage Bakery restaurant site at 203 S. School St.
Plans call for building a wine tasting room where visitors can watch the winemaking process.
Winemaking classes could eventually be offered, the couple said.
"We're just very excited we were approved," Colleen Lewis said following the unanimous vote, her eyes beaming.
"(We're) looking forward to serving the people of Lodi with goodies," added Greg Lewis.
Questions about customer parking and how the Lewis' will truck their grapes to the site were addressed at the meeting.
Gregg Lewis assured the commission that any trucks that enter the site's parking lot (which is also used by the Shangri La Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar) would not sit there for long.
An entrance will also be expanded to accommodate forklifts as they deliver the grape varietals, Gregg Lewis said.
The commission, along with one of Lodi's top wine promoters, lauded the winery plans.
Mark Chandler, executive director of the Lodi Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, said the Dancing Fox will pump vitality into Downtown.
"This is an exciting project for Lodi," he said. "I think it's a tremendous embellishment."
Along with the winery approval, commissioners also OK'd an Eastside parcel split despite vocal opposition.
The move allows Randy Heinitz to develop two new parcels on a 15,500 square foot property at 815 S. Washington St.
A duplex now sits at the site, but most of the site is vacant land.
Neighbors said they're very wary of adding more homes to an already crowded community.
Several, including Gloria Hilliard, whose 85-year-old mother lives nearby, said the project will lead to further parking problems.
Several commissioners noted that the 14-foot-wide driveway that all three parcels will use is very narrow.
In a compromise to meet fire safety codes, Heinitz agreed to install fire sprinklers in all the homes.
That didn't seem to allay neighbors' concerns.
"It's a very narrow driveway for anybody to go in or out," Hilliard said, later noting she wants ambulances to be able to access the area as quickly as possible should an emergency arise.
She said she's worried about cars blocking the narrow passage.
"The parking situation is going to be very, very bad," she added. "It's already bad."